USAF REMOTELY PILOTED AIRCRAFT (RPA) SENSOR OPERATOR BADGE

In response to the increasing need for personnel to operate remotely controlled aircraft and their associated weapons and sensor systems, the United States Air Force established the 1UXXX Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Sensor Operator career field in September, 2010. As a crew member of an unmanned aerospace system, the RPA Sensor Operator is responsible for the operation of a variety of airborne sensors that acquire, monitor, and track ground-based, airborne, and maritime objects. With the requisite qualifications, they are tasked with the conduct of operations following and in accordance with Air Tasking Orders, Special Instructions, and Rules of Engagement, and monitor both the aircraft and its weapon systems to ensure functionality.

At higher levels, RPA Sensor Operators are involved policy planning and RPA program formulation; this can encompass the inspection, training, and direction of combat operations as they pertain to the activities of crew members and the operation of sensor suites. As members of a crew, they assist RPA Pilots through every phase of a mission, from the initial planning and outline of flight operations to debriefings.

Attainable by enlisted personnel in the IUXXX AFSC (CEM Code 1U000), the RPA Sensor Operator badge is awarded at three levels: RPA Sensor Operator (RPASO), Senior RPASO, and Chief RPASO. Basic RPASO badge requirements include being awarded the Duty Air Force Specialty Code 1UXXX, qualifying for aviation service (either active or inactive Flying Status Code), and meeting the medical qualifications for Remotely Piloted Aircraft.

Senior RPASO requires permanent award of the basic badge and completion of a minimum of seven years of service with Remotely Piloted Aircraft and a 5-skill level as a crewmember, along 1300 hours of flight time (any combo of primary, instructor, and/or evaluator time) or 72 paid months (or 2000 hours) of operational flying duty. Those numbers jump to 15 years RPA service and a 7-skill level as a crewmember along with 2300 hours of flight time or 12 years (or 3000 hours) of paid operational flying duty.
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